THURSDAY 7TH OCTOBER 1999: Goodbye Lothbury?
Bank of Scotland announces more about the bid. They think they can cut around £1 Billion from the annual costs of the new group within 3 years. They say they will close down Lothbury - "there will be a brass plate in London which will be NatWest's head office," says Peter Burt, their Chief Executive, in a move that is really going to endear him to our senior managers.
They will look at a property sale and leaseback or something like the deal the Department of Social Security did while I was working there, which included sale, leaseback, outsourcing of facilities services and a joint venture element. The major savings will come from consolidating IT, elimination of duplicate functions and "application of Bank of Scotland’s proven management practices to the cost base of NatWest." Well, I have no illusion that we are particularly efficient, but it sounds like an awful lot of savings to me.
Sir David immediately responds, saying the bid is high risk and scant reward for shareholders. We can deliver superior value ourselves. Our shares are up at £14.40, while the BoS bid is worth £12.87; more action is still expected.
Richard Delbridge and I have one of our regular one-to-one meetings- although I am assuming I’m still transferring soon to work for Bernard Horn. These meetings are usually fortnightly and scheduled for a 6p.m. start. Richard often overruns and I end up having a late night. But this one isn't too bad; five p.m. start. Richard looks tired and is recovering from flu. I often wonder why he still works, given both what he has achieved and the money he must have - and works so incredibly hard and long.
After previous meetings, I have left him a pile of things to review at 8 p.m. and found the responses back on the fax or e-mail by nine the next morning. I guess he just loves the job and also has, I think, an inner ethic of duty and hard work. He certainly does not seem to be driven by power, status or money. He can't tell me anything new about the situation, although he says that it would be terrible for staff and customers if it drags on for months - is this a hint there might be an agreed bid in the wings?